Become A Motivational Speaker In South Africa

how to become a motivational speaker in South Africa

How to become a motivational speaker or keynote speaker in South Africa is a question I get a lot in the line of work I’m in.

To become a motivational speaker in South Africa is an exciting, daunting and worthwhile adventure.
But, let me not kid you. It’s not as easy as just wanting to become a motivational speaker in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
It takes guts, skill, business acumen and perseverance to crack it as a motivational speaker.

What’s with the word, motivational speaker?

Curiously, most professional speakers don’t like to be called motivational speakers. They prefer to be known as an authority on a certain subject.
Let’s examine the word, motivational speaker. This is really a catch-all phrase for any subject matter expert. The boss typically will tell his or her subordinates, “Find me a motivational speaker for our conference.”
The subordinate has 3 options:
  1. Spend hours trawling through motivational speakers websites
  2. Get a professional conference organiser to do all the heavy lifting and come up with a short list
  3. Get a professional speakers bureau to source the speakers
Regardless, what the client is typically looking for is a subject expert who can deliver a keynote speech that will will speak to the event purpose and add value to the delegates at the organisation’s event, convention, kick-off meeting or Indaba.
The subjects are diverse. Here are 19 (out of 100s) as an example (I did them in alphabetical order and couldn’t find a topic with ‘z’:
  1. Accountability
  2. Body language
  3. Conflict resolution
  4. Diversity
  5. Emotional intelligence
  6. Fitness
  7. Generation issues
  8. Humour
  9. Leadership
  10. Management
  11. Networking
  12. Organisational skills
  13. Personal development
  14. Real estate
  15. Sales
  16. Teambuilding
  17. Vision/purpose
  18. Wellness
  19. Youth

You don’t want to become a motivational speaker in South Africa

What you want to become is a subject matter expert. Be it in body language, Internet marketing, goal-setting, network marketing, culture change … whatever, just pick a lane. The quicker you can specialise, better for you as a professional speaker.
To be honest, most of us in this professional speakers game have come to realise that we are actually only dispensers of information that is useful to a certain segment of the population.
Brendon Buchard the Millionaire MessengerBefore falling in love with the word, motivational speaker, consider what Brendon Buchard, author and keynote speaker sells in his book, The Millionaire Messenger. He says that there are 6 pillars on which we should build our expert business. If you rely on only one pillar, like motivational speaking, it is a risky strategy.
Here are Buchard’s 6 Pillars on which to build your professional expert business:
  1. You need to have one signature keynote address
  2. You should add training to your offering
  3. Write a book on your subject matter
  4. Be open to coaching people one-on-one or in groups
  5. Consult to organisations. Some need more than a keynote or day’s training to sort their challenges out
  6. Develop a product that can add value to your training, keynote, coaching and consulting

Whatever, Jacques … I just want to become a motivational speaker in South Africa

Ok, so if a smart guy like Brendon Buchard can’t convince you that becoming a motivational speaker in South Africa is a k#k idea, then I suppose I’ll have less chance.
Go for it. I’ve seen stranger things happen than a complete novice hitting it big quickly.
Just do me a favour, please. Don’t try and become a motivational speaker in South Africa if you’ve just left school, college or university. Unless you had your arm bitten off by a shark, got trapped on a deserted island for years or was sold as a slave at four, you won’t have any credibility.
Where’s the life experience? Where’s the skill? Where’s the hard knocks? Get some maturity and experience under your wings before you think you have something of value to offer a paying audience.

I’m going to become a motivational speaker in South Africa and the speakers bureaus are going to help me

Motivational speakers bureaus in South AfricaSeriously, what are you smoking? Few professional speaker bureaus (and I know all the bureau principals who are worth knowing) will risk their reputation by putting an untested motivational speaker in front of a paying audience. It’s their reputation on the line.
Also, most new speakers charge too little to make it worthwhile for the professional speakers bureau to bother. Work it out. Speakers bureaus typically get 20% of the speaker’s fee. So, let’s say you’re coming in at R5 000 for an hour keynote speech, they’ll only make R1000 for the effort. Most speakers bureau principals don’t get out of bed for less than R3000. That means you have to charge a professional speaker fee of R15 000.
My suggestion is not to approach a speakers bureau for at least the first 3 years of your professional speaking career. Get 100 paid talks (or free) under your belt. Get a name for yourself. Speakers agents are just like your local bank. It won’t lend you money until you have money or collateral. Speakers bureaus won’t book you until you are bankable.


To become a motivational speaker in South Africa and succeed at it, here are some suggestions:

  1. Build a website and populate it with content that’s useful to your target audience
  2. Make sure you claim your name on the Internet. E.g Try to claim your name for .com too
  3. Every time you speak, get someone to film you. This allows you to evaluate your performance and gives you footage for your marketing collateral
  4. Have professional photos taken
  5. Design a speakers pack: this includes your biography, services, MC introduction, your showreel video, testimonials and the like
  6. Write a book. It’s your Business Card on Steroids
  7. Create lead magnets. Information that you give away on your website so that you can collect opt-in email addresses
  8. Build a database of email addresses so that you can market to your prospects over time
  9. Build a proper LinkedIn profile. Use the problem-promise-solution method on your profile
  10. Have a proper customer relationship management system to keep track of your prospects and clients
  11. Become a prolific writer of content. Content is king on the Internet. The search engines love content rich websites and will rank you higher if you give them what they want

Professional Speaker Resources

Motivational Speakers ResourcesI’ve put together some motivational speaker resources for you to kick start your speaking business:

  1. The Wealthy Speaker 2.0 by Jane Atkinson. Non-negotiable
  2. The Epic Keynote by Jane Atkinson
  3. The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Buchard. Non-negotiable
  4. Speaker Savvy by Bronwyn Hesketh
  5. The Exceptional Speaker by Alan Stevens and Paul du Toit
  6. Join Toastmasters
  7. Join the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa

The links to all these resources and more are are on motivational speakers resources.



Author of this text

Stef du Plessis Founder's Award recipient, motivational speaker, Jacques de Villiers

Stef du Plessis, CSP, Adolf Kaestner, DTM, Jacques de Villiers, DTM, Roger Knowles and Paul du Toit, CSP

Jacques de Villiers – a 19-year professional speaking veteran with more than 1 200 speaking and training interventions under his belt.
  • He is a Stef du Plessis Founder’s Award recipient
  • A Toastmaster of the Year
  • A Distinguished Toastmaster
  • A member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa